ACW Miniature Wargaming

by Mike Priest on February 18, 2009 · 4 comments

Hello. I am John Michael Priest, veteran high school history teacher, Civil War historian and avid wargamer. As a member of the HMGS – East I have had the honor of hosting a number of games at its conventions over the past several years. This year I will be attending Cold Wars in Lancaster to run my game:Fredericksburg.

Over the past 20 years I have developed a gaming system which I use in my Civil War class to recreate major ACW battles on battalion level with 54mm figures. This system, which I named “Fix Bayonets!” years ago, has evolved into a game spanning the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Mexican War. It is the evolution of the game itself which has fascinated me. Thanks to other enthusiasts I have been able to rewrite, redesign, and tweak the rules to make it much more playable. While I would love to find a publisher for these rules, I would like to discuss the system with other players to further refine the rules.

I do have one question, I need answered. I am not an explosives/artillery expert. As a school teacher, I am very fortunate that I am allowed to even play the game. My shells and case shot have a blast radius of 1 inch. During one of my games a player told me that the blast should only spray forward and not behind (in a circle). I had always been under the impression that shell bursts should occur over the top of the target to splatter downward upon it in every direction. Would someone who is knowledgeable about 18th and 19th Century projectiles, please, clarify this for me?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Freiheit February 18, 2009 at 8:19 pm

Mr. Priest,

Looks like the player is correct according to John Gibbon in his “Artillerst’s Manual” on pg. 148: ” “When a shell is burst while stationary, the pieces are dispersed in almost every direction, with more or less force, according to the resistance offered by the sides. But if it is in motion, those parts of it in front will move forwards with an increased, and those in rear with a decreased velocity, and in case the shell is moving at the time with very little velocity, this maybe entirely overcome for the rear parts by the explosion, and they may drop at once to the ground, or even be thrown backwards.”

Apparently, the velocity of the shell when fired, say “v”, adds to the velocity of the fragments, say “v1” so the fragments in the front have the velocity of v + v1 while those directly in the rear have the velocity of v – v1. But since I withdrew from my college physics course, pls check my math.

Larry F.


Mike Priest February 19, 2009 at 6:39 am


Thank you so very much for your prompt reply. I will change the rule accordingly. Mike Priest


Nancy Capizzi March 17, 2009 at 1:08 am

Mike, This is totally off subject, but did you attend West Point?
Nancy Capizzi


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